Letter: Great Exhibition - What are the benefits to us?

editorial image

It’s not only on the national stage that voters are clearly angry at the widening disconnect between politicians and public and what would appear to be an increasing disregard for democracy. We see it all the time on Harrogate Borough Council.

Take the decision that Harrogate should press ahead with a formal bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North in summer 2018. This would be a massive event; a celebration of the very best of northern culture, art and design.

But like all key decisions on Harrogate Council, it was approved at a meeting of the six-person Cabinet where it was nodded through largely on the basis of a report from a council official, with no input from opposition councillors and without any serious debate as to the pros and cons.

Putting to one side how much money the council has already – or will – spend preparing its bid; if Harrogate is selected, the council would be expected to cough up around £1 million of the projected £12m budget (the bulk of the money coming from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the National Lottery).

This scenario once again throws up what’s becoming a familiar contradiction: Harrogate Council continually claiming this is a time of austerity and that it’s committed to saving money.

Yet somehow or other it always manages to find the funds for pet projects such as approving completely unnecessary new offices for itself or, on this occasion, hosting an attention-seeking extravaganza .

It’s estimated that the Great Exhibition will attract around 10,000 visitors a day, so what impact will that have on Harrogate’s residents, particularly in terms of traffic flow and parking?

Also, as your correspondent Valerie Cooke suggested (Advertiser Letters, June 23) if Harrogate wishes to host the Great Exhibition of the North, it needs to smarten itself up in all kinds of ways.

For me, there’s also the glaring inconsistency of a council which arrogantly imagines it’s the ideal venue for showcasing northern art and culture.

Yet this is the same council which has been busy trying to sell off the borough’s civic treasures; claiming there’s no place for them in the new council offices.

So if you’ve got a council not even fiercely proud of retaining the artefacts and heritage of its own district, why on earth should it be rewarded by being chosen to showcase the cultural treasures of the wider northern region?

Peter Lilley

Valley Drive,

Harrogate